High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 3-23—Trying to get Fast(er)

Week in Review: February 17-23
Monday, February 17th
AM—20 Miles—2:44—1,700’—Last Dollar Road
Started off with a slow 1.75 miles on the icy River Trail before picking up the pace a little on the paved bike path. The paved miles on the ascent to the airport seemed to pass by effortlessly until next thing I knew I was descending the dirt road to Deep Creek. My effort on this run felt considerably easier than last week’s 15 miler, but my split to Deep Creek (~7.5 miles) was only 3 minutes slower today. Shortly after Deep Creek I ditched my shirt since I was sweating my ass off in the nearly 50 degree temps. I cruised the next 2.5 miles of muddy, wet dirt road before turning around to head back. My time at the turnaround was 1:24. The climb out of Deep Creek back to the paved road seemed easier than usual, but my split was the same as the last few times I’ve ran it. Back on the pavement I ran a couple of 6:15 minute miles to reach the flat’ish bike path. Here I settled into some 7:15-7:30 miles before slowing considerably on the last 1.75 miles of the icy River Trail for a four-minute negative split. I’m starting to enjoy these longer outings where I run every step of the way. 

Tuesday, February 18th
PM—7 Miles—1:07—750’—Mill Creek Road
Hungover run that I basically put off until the end of the day. I felt surprisingly good once I got started and even debated running a little longer. But I decided an easy seven would be enough for the day. Ran on the River Trail to Mill Creek and on the bike path back to town. 

Wednesday, February 19th
AM—9 Miles—1:35—1,350’—Mill Creek Road (x2)
I still felt crappy today. So I decided to make an early morning run to Montrose for some cheap groceries (Telluride prices are just plain ridiculous) before doing any running. The River Trail was an icy deathtrap after the last few days of freezing-and-thawing. The climb up Mill Creek seemed to take everything I had. I even stopped to hike in a few places on both trips up. About a quarter-mile from the end of the road there were at least two coyotes tearing at the carcass of something. I didn’t really want to be dessert so I turned around at this point on both laps. Slow going on the ice back home. 

Thursday, February 20th
AM—11 Miles—1:37—850’—Last Dollar Road
The first four miles or so were a little cold—around 10F with a wind chill of -5F or so. It didn’t take long for the icebeard to form. I kept the effort mellow all day long since I’ve never really had good luck with trying to run hard in the bitter cold. I always end up pulling or tearing something. So, I ran 8-minute miles on the flat bike path to Last Dollar Road where I ran 10-11 minute miles for the ~800-feet ascent over two miles. About halfway up the climb I started to heat up. I ran about 8:30 pace for the descent versus my typical 6-6:15 pace. The last three miles of bike path back to the house had me sweating pretty good—it had warmed up to a balmy 15F with a 5F wind chill. Beautiful day outside. 

Friday, February 21st
AM—21 Miles—3:05—2,250’—Last Dollar Road
Pretty much the same run as Monday except that I skipped the River Trail (started directly on the bike path), went out 1-2 miles longer on Last Dollar Road for an extra climb, and ran a lot slower. This run seemed to take a little more effort than Monday. Possibly due to the muddy, snowy, and slushy conditions on the road? I started getting some slight pain in my left hip around mile 13/14, but nothing too serious. 

Saturday, February 22nd
AM—7 Miles—1:06—800’—Mill Creek R0ad
Easy day on the bike path and Mill Creek Road. Saw the skull of whatever it was the coyotes were picking on the other day. Beautiful views of Wilson off in the distance. 

Sunday, February 23rd
PM—6 Miles—0:44—250’—Bike Path
I originally planned on an easy ten miles to the airport and back, but decided to take off at a quick pace and just stuck with it. The first half-mile or so was on icy roads/sidewalks in town. So, I held an 8:30-9 minute pace. Once I got on the ice-free bike path I opened up my pace a little and started hitting 6:15-6:30 pace until the three-mile turnaround point at 20:43. On the way back I stopped to talk to a guy pushing a stroller for 3.5 minutes, but didn’t stop my watch. So, my roundtrip time should have been closer to 40 minutes. I didn’t really care since I relaxed the effort back to about 7:15 pace for the return trip. 

Time— 12 hours 00 minutes
Elevation Gain— 7,950 feet

Week in Review: February 10-16
Monday, February 10th
AM—10 Miles—1:26—700’—Last Dollar Road
Easy run on the River Trail and Bike Path before heading up Last Dollar Road about 1.5 miles. This is a fun little hill that I might start using for repeats. I don’t really like the idea of hill repeats, but it may be the only way to get vertical. At least this hill provides the option for a two-mile continuous climb versus some dinky little quarter-mile climb. 

Tuesday, February 11th
PM—8 Miles—1:25—1,200’—River Trail, Boomerang Road, and Mountain Village Golf Course
My legs are going crazy with all of this flat running. So I sought out some vertical—any vertical. After cruising, the River Trail I headed up Boomerang with a mix of primarily hiking and a little running. The snow is still super soft. I just started heading up the paved roads of Mountain Village for a while to get a little more uphill action. Before descending Boomerang I ran some of the “hills” on the groomed golf course trails. 

Wednesday, February 12th
AM—5 Miles—0:46—650’—Last Dollar Road
Parked at the airport after dropping off Ben. I ended up running from the airport, down to Deep Creek, and back. The climb up from Deep Creek was pretty fun; runnable, but enough of a grunt to make you feel like you worked a little. 

Thursday, February 13th
AM—15 Miles—2:00—1,250’—Last Dollar Road
I headed out this morning with the intent of a 15-20 mile run. After a nice warm up on the River Trail I started trying to pick up the pace a little on the bike path; holding a 6:45-7:15 pace. With an easy effort I disposed of the initial two-mile, 500+ feet climb up Last Dollar Road in 0:18. The descent to Deep Creek seemed to take a bit of work just to hold a 6:30 pace. Eventually, I saw the footprints I was leaving and realized the dirt road was pretty muddy/tacky. I hit Deep Creek around mile 7.5 and took that as a sign that I should just run 15 miles today. So I headed back up the 1.5 miles and 450 feet I just descended; reaching the top in 0:13. I cruised the paved road from the airport back to the bike path (with the exception of the last half-mile where I held a sub-5:30 pace). This two-mile stretch took about 0:13. While running back on the bike path all I really wanted to do was walk, but I kept running through the boredom in an effort to make the pavement end as quickly as possible. Back on the River Trail the only thing on my mind was sneaking back in less than two hours. So close. This was the first time in a LONG time that I’ve actually ran 15 miles without stopping or power hiking. I ran even splits for the out-and-back;  one hour out, one hour back. 

Friday, February 14th
AM—10 Miles—2:01—1,900’—St. Sophia Gondola Station from Telluride
I kept the effort easy all day since there was a little tightness in my legs from yesterday. The River Trail was a pretty solid sheet of ice, which helped keep me around 8:30 pace. When I hit Boomerang Road I was pleased to find the snow had finally consolidated quite nicely. So I trotted up the hill with a few stretches of walking. After running on the Mountain Village roads for a mile or so I noticed a snow packed area that looked like a trail. It was unmarked, but I decided to head up to explore. This ended up being the Ridge Trail, which led all the way to the St. Sophia Gondola Station at 10,500+ feet. I was pretty happy to finally find a little bit of vertical (though not much). Took the return trip pretty easy. 

Saturday, February 15th
AM—7 Miles—1:08—750’—Mill Creek Road
Easy jog along the River Trail before trotting up the icy, slushy Mill Creek Road. Easy effort up and down. 

PM—4 Miles—0:53—1,000’—Ridge Trail
Parked at the Mountain Village gondola station and started running up the snowy Ridge Trail at an easy effort. The intent was to meet up with Basit somewhere along the trail and share a few miles with him. We finally ran into each other near the St Sophia gondola station at 10,500’ish feet. After spending a few minutes looking around for more vertical we decided to just cruise down the Ridge Trail. Fun, shirtless run!

Sunday, February 16th
AM—5 Miles—0:47—750’—Boomerang Road
Woke up feeling like crap with a headache. Easy run along the River Trail to the top of Boomerang Road and back. The past few days of warm weather did a good job of making things a little icy. It was snowing a bit during the run, which helped take my mind off how crappy I felt. 

Time— 10 hours 29 minutes
Elevation Gain— 8,200 feet

Week in Review: February 3-9
Monday, February 3rd
PM—7 Miles—1:27—2,600’—Green Mountain
My legs just felt like crap all day today. After sitting around doing nothing I finally decided to head to Chautauqua and lace ‘em up. As soon as I put on the shoes my legs felt great. Maybe it was wearing my lighter Fellraisers versus the clunky Saucony Goretex shoes? Maybe it was the fact that I was heading up the mountain in nothing but shorts, a long-sleeve merino shirt, and gloves? Whatever it was, my legs felt full of energy. I cruised up the backside of Green from Chautauqua at an easy pace in 0:55 before heading down via the middle route. Ran into Jeff just below the three-way trail junction at the top of Ranger and chatted for a bit. 

Tuesday, February 4th
AM—11 Miles—7:39—3,400’—Grays Peak Winter Attempt
Headed up to Grays/Torreys with David for the usual shit show. The access road from the winter trailhead to the summer trailhead was groomed by skiers and passed somewhat quickly. From there on it was knee-to-hip deep postholing (sometimes deeper), even in snowshoes. We slogged away until about 13,000’ before deciding our progress was just way too slow. So we turned back and called it a day. Got to use snowshoes, crampons, and an ice ax today (all for the first time). 

Wednesday, February 5th
OFF—Travel day from Denver to Telluride

Thursday, February 6th
PM—5 Miles—0:46—450’—Black Bear Pass Road
Easy run on the road that heads up towards Bridal Veil Falls. Nothing to write home about. 

Friday, February 7th
PM—4 Miles—0:39—450’—River Trail and Boomerang Road
Easy run on the River Trail before heading about a half mile up Boomerang. 

Saturday, February 8th
AM—6 Miles—1:08—850’—River Trail, Boomerang Road, and Mill Creek Road
Tried running up Boomerang, but the snow was still soft causing me to punch through 2-4 inches with every step. I’d rather be post holing that punching through just enough to make running terribly inefficient. So, I headed over to Mill Creek Road to see if it was any better. It wasn’t. Called it a day. 

Sunday, February 9th
PM—3 Miles—0:28—50’—River Trail
Easy run on the River Trail to the Boomerang junction. Tired and dehydrated from being at ~9k feet. 

Time— 12 hours 08 minutes
Elevation Gain— 7,800 feet

Partaking in opening day of Stout Month at The Sun before leaving Boulder (Photo: Rob Timko)

Shedding the snowshoes (Photo: David Ponak)

Side profile to show the frozen snot (Photo: David Ponak)

Testing out new stuff on Grays/Torreys in -15F or so temps

Road Run in Telluride

David Ponak leading the way up Grays/Torreys

My last view of the Flatirons of Boulder in a few months

Sunset from St Sophia gondola station in Telluride

Road runs are easier with decent scenery

David Ponak leading the way in a fruitless effort up Grays/Torreys

Sunset from the St Sophia gondola station in Telluride

A nice, long road run inTelluride

My first day of work in over 16 months!

One of the many splendid views I get on a daily basis at my new "job"

Sweet inversion layer on Green Mountain in Boulder

Last run up Green Mountain before heading out to Telluride

My first run living in Telluride--a dinky one up towards Bridal Veil Falls

"Pricy" conditions are unavoidable here

Frigid temperatures making their return to Telluride


  1. I missed Stout Month last year and almost cried. Heh. I made it only one day this year, but it's a start. A Thunderhead and an Oatimus Prime!

    Telluride is a place I wish I could get to more often. It's just so damned far away. Have a blast.

    Great batch of photos.

    1. Stout Month is pretty forgettable for me. I prefer the month of July at West End Tavern. They only have IPA's on tap and call it Jul-IPA. Don't get me wrong, there are a few stouts at Stout Month that are great. IPA's are just my preference.

      Telluride is a great location. The only thing that sucks about it is the people. Generally, most of the people here are asshole. Fortunately, once the snow disappears I'll spend almost all of my time out solo in the National Forests and won't have to deal with any of them.